Until I read this Daniel Henninger column touting Cain’s presidential qualifications, I never gave much thought as to why it has never occurred to me that he's presidential material. Henninger reminds us that Cain is a spectacularly accomplished guy, whose record in the private sector ought to command more respect. Henniger thinks it's especially rich that a lot of people who can't begin to imagine a Cain presidency eagerly entrusted an undistinguished backbencher in the Illinois and United States Senate without a record of legislative accomplishment with the presidency the last time around:
“Put it this way: The GOP nominee is running against the incumbent president. Unlike the incumbent, Herman Cain has at least twice identified the causes of a large failing enterprise, designed goals, achieved them, and by all accounts inspired the people he was supposed to lead. Not least, Mr. Cain's life experience suggests that, unlike the incumbent, he will adjust his ideas to reality.”I plead guilty as charged when it comes to not being sufficiently impressed by Cain’s accomplishments in the private sector. Yet if I’m still indisposed to regard him as presidential material, it can only be because he’s the only Republican candidate who has never been a successful professional politician, and would be the first president who hadn't held high elective office since Eisenhower. Worse, Cain has tried his hand at elective politics and failed at it pretty miserably, seeking and not getting the Republican nomination for a Georgia Senate seat. Thinking things over with Henniger’s help, I still find it a little bizarre that Cain’s extreme political innocence is the thing that most commends him to his supporters.
Can it really be that there’s no distinctive skill set associated with effectively discharging the duties of the highest elective office there is? If there is, there’s not much evidence that Cain has it. Yes, he’s successfully lead complex private organizations. But they were comprised of people he could fire without cause. Being the president isn’t like that inasmuch as success depends on persuading all sorts of people with independent interests and power bases to do your bidding. I’ll admit that it’s becoming pretty clear that Obama wasn’t prepared for that part of job. But, if you ask me, it’s less because he hadn’t served in the military like John McCain, or succeeded in the private sector like Romney and Cain than because, owing to a succession of lucky political breaks, he’d never had to earn his spurs as a professional politician before he got to the White House.